Like any organization that accepts money, nonprofits are a prime target for cybercriminals. And because so many now accept online payments, they have to store personally identifiable information (PII) for their donors. This is exactly the type of data that cybercriminals would love to get their hands on so they could exploit it or sell it to the highest bidder. Here are some ways an organization can improve its nonprofit cybersecurity to stay one step ahead of attackers.
Know Which Assets Are Most at Risk
The risk profile for a nonprofit organization is often different than that of a for-profit corporation. For example, it may be slightly less likely for a nonprofit to have top-secret company plans that competitors would pay a hacker to steal.
On the other hand, as any cybersecurity professional would advise, many nonprofits have to safeguard sensitive information that hackers may target, such as:
- Donor banking information
- Internal bank accounts used to manage funds
- The personal data of full-time employees
- The personal data of hundreds, or even thousands, of volunteers
Understand Where You Are Vulnerable
Knowing what assets and information cybercriminals are most interested in is only one aspect of what you should be concerned about. Nonprofits should perform regular vulnerability and penetration scans on their systems. This helps identify any risks and vulnerabilities in your organization that you may not be aware of.
And furthermore, this is something that shouldn’t occur just once and checked off the list. New vulnerabilities occur daily, which is why you should regularly perform these scans.
Constantly Monitor Your Network
One of the most important things you can do to safeguard your digital assets is monitor activity across your network. This enables you to know when there’s unusual activity and act immediately.
For example, suppose you have a server that contains sensitive payment information, and you’re monitoring data flowing to and from that server. Suddenly, you notice a huge spike in data leaving the server. This could be the start of a data exfiltration attack, where a hacker steals information and storing it on their own server. But because you’re monitoring network activity, you can stop this attack in its early phases.
Increase Staff Awareness
Does your staff know what to do if they suspect their computer is being hit with a ransomware attack? Do they know what a phishing email looks like? In many cases, highly skilled, proficient professionals don’t know what to do or what to look for when it comes to nonprofit cybersecurity issues — and those working for nonprofits are no exception.
Therefore, it’s best to train your staff on:
- What to do when they suspect a cyberattack or the presence of ransomware
- How to spot a phishing email
- How different kinds of threats can spread throughout your network
- The most common attacks on companies in your area or similar nonprofits
Practice Basic Cyber Hygiene
Basic cyber hygiene is often more effective than some people realize, simply because hackers like to go after the lowest-hanging fruit. Here are some cyber hygiene tips that can keep your nonprofit from being victimized by opportunistic hackers:
- Use complex passwords that are hard to guess.
- Make sure employees shut down computers and log out of sessions whenever they have to leave their desks.
- Use a firewall and configure it to prevent access to malicious websites.
- Make sure every device that connects to your network has the most recent antivirus software installed.
- Always ensure that your staff is running the latest version of each type of software they use. This can prevent them from using software that is still vulnerable to concerns already addressed in an update.
Take Control of Your Nonprofit’s Cybersecurity
By partnering with TPx, you gain access to experienced nonprofit cybersecurity professionals who know how to identify and stop the kinds of threats that can impact nonprofits. You also gain a comprehensive view of the tools you need to protect your network and its assets. Chat with TPx today to learn more.